“Whew, just looking at all of your children makes me tired.”
“Are you finished having children?”
“Were any of them an accident?”
My sister has 6 children ages 2-13. She is no stranger to wide-eyed staring and awkward (sometimes rude) questions and remarks. Her 4 year old might be throwing a fit in Target and she’s guaranteed glances, but even if all 6 offspring are calm the staring is inevitable. Most people can’t understand why she would have more than 2 children. It’s societal sterilization.
Recently, the staring and awkward remarks have spilled into discrimination. My sister and her family are not welcome at their local hair salon, because customers complained about her children. They made no major disturbances, except the disturbance of being children. Another family with only one child is still welcome at the salon.
Discrimination has been a hot topic for awhile now. Whether it’s racial, gender, age, or even sexual orientation, people are being discriminated against. But one group is missing from this list of discriminated folk: mothers. Maybe in some cases discrimination is too strong a word, sometimes it’s just a lack of public support and encouragement. Most times it’s a public disdain for children.
Children are not welcome at restaurants, they aren’t welcome on airplanes, and any type of adult gathering, unless they don’t talk and don’t move. If they talk and move too much, we as parents will get the stare down. Of course we want to be considerate of others and teach our children about social behavior in public settings. Even in the midst of doing these things, children are not perfect, they are still learning; just like us. Societal grace for parents and children is in want of supply.
Jesus Loves Children
This unwelcoming attitude is opposite of Jesus. Luke 18:15-17 says,
“Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.'”
For the disciples, children were not welcome to see Jesus. The disciples treated the children as a hindrance, hence Jesus says, ‘do not hinder them.’ Jesus does not ogle children, he welcomes them with open arms. He even uses them as an example. Jesus dishes up some humility to counteract his disciples arrogance.
Jesus was basically saying, ” If you want to be my disciple, then learn a thing or two from these children. Learn humility and faith; the complete trust a child has in his parent.” To enter the kingdom of God this is what we must do today; humble ourselves as children and put our faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Children are a Blessing
Much of our society’s disdain for children stems from the wrong perspective. If we aren’t careful as mothers we can fall prey to this mindset as well. If we aren’t fighting to view our children as a blessing, then we will eventually grow to disdain them. Our culture tells us children rob us of ‘me time’ or time alone as a couple. Children ruin our bodies, we can’t go anywhere or do anything, we’re limited, restricted, inconvenienced, trapped!
Yet, the Bible says we are blessed.
“Behold, children are a heritage from The Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” – Psalm 127:3-5
Yes, children ruin our bodies, we don’t have as much time to ourselves or time with our spouse, and yes, we might not be able to do everything we did before we had them, but we need to fill our quivers with much blessing. This season of parenthood is only one part of our entire lives, and then our children grow up. Children are not an inconvenience if we view them as a blessing. They make our lives so much fuller.
As married couples we grow in love for each other in ways that only parenthood can nurture. We even grow in our relationship with Christ. Children can teach us many things about ourselves; they can help us grow in character. These are just a few of the many blessings children bring.
Blessings can be Hard
Children don’t seem like a blessing sometimes, because it is hard to deny ourselves and put someone else first. Our sin gets in the way of viewing children as a blessing. Lately, I’ve been having these inner pity parties for myself, and thinking about all the things I could do if I had more alone time; thinking how nice it would be to have a cup of coffee without a 16 month old climbing on me and demanding my attention. I quickly realized I was being discontent and making ‘me time’ more important than it was.
Nothing is wrong with having ‘me time’, but it is always easier to chose and want that than it is to deny ourselves. It’s easier to listen to the culture that tells us we are worth it, and deserve to pamper ourselves. All moms need a break for sure, but if we live for those breaks we will be discontent and forget how many blessings we have at home.
So now, I drink my coffee while reading and playing with my son. I’m very blessed to have him, and embrace these coffee moments as such. My sister once sent me a picture of all 6 of her children sitting around their large kitchen table. She said, “Look at all my blessings.” If only all the public gawkers knew what they were missing.